Sports Illustrated’s third installment of their ninth annual “Top 100 NBA Players” sees Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard featured at no. 11. The Blazers had four players ranked from 100-51, and added a fifth player in the 50-31 ranking, before rounding out their current lineup with their sixth inclusion on the list.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo cites Lillard’s prolific scoring and how consistently he can play at the highest level in the league as reasons for his spot on this list.
There’s a reason Lillard has become central to the league’s grating, want-away-star discourse: he’s one of a scant few backcourt players truly dominant enough to swing the league’s balance of power. His elite production has been steady; Dame Time can feel inevitable. There’s a lot of discussion about whether the Trail Blazers will ever contend, but not enough credence given to the fact Portland hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2012-13—Lillard’s rookie year. His upward trajectory has been more or less constant ever since. At this point, we know pretty much exactly what we’ll see from him, if not what he’ll decide about his future. Don’t take the deep threes and compelling moments for granted. — JW
Lillard’s ranking at number 11 puts him one above his previous ranking of 12 heading into the 2020-21 season. He ranks just ahead of playoff standouts Paul George at 12 and Jayson Tatum at 13.
The fourth and final installment of the “Top 100 NBA Players” list will be released Thursday, and will feature players ranked 10-1.